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Legal costs impact Jos. A. Bank Q4 earnings; sales inch up

BY Dan Berthiaume

Hampstead, Md. – Jos. A. Bank Clothiers posted a profit of $27.4 million for the fourth quarter, down from $28.4 million in the year-ago period. The retailer’s earnings were impacted by legal and professional costs related to its upcoming acquisition by The Men’s Wearhouse and other strategic moves.

Sales rose 0.4% to $356 million, in line with analysts estimates. The year-ago period included 14 weeks of sales, compared with 13 weeks in the most recent quarter. Jos. A. Bank cited robust holiday sales, partially offset by post-holiday severe weather, as boosting overall quarterly sales performance.

During the full fiscal year, net income fell 26% to $63.32 million, from $79.69 million. Net sales slightly fell to $1.03 billion from $1.04 billion. So far in fiscal 2014, Jos. A. Bank has generated double-digit total sales gains, which the retailer says reflects positive consumer response to promotions as well as ongoing strength in the non-promotional portion of its business.

“The initiatives we have undertaken to improve both our top and bottom line performance are delivering results,” said R. Neal Black, president and CEO of Jos. A. Bank.

Black said the current quarter has gotten off to a strong start.

"We have generated double-digit total sales gains in fiscal February and the first four weeks of fiscal March 2014, reflecting positive consumer response to our promotions as well as ongoing strength in the non-promotional portion of our business," he said.

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Survey: Consumers wary of spending

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – While attitudes haven’t changed overwhelmingly since December 2013, some shifts in plans for the next six months may indicate that Americans are questioning their financial prospects during the next few months, according to a new Harris Poll. The survey of 2,234 U.S. adults shows that Americans are more likely than in December to say that they plan on decreasing their spending on eating out at restaurants (59%, up four points) within the next six months.

Consumers are also less likely to say they will save or invest more money within the next six months (52%, down six points), that they will have more money to spend the way they want (34%, down four points) and that they will buy a new computer (23%, down four points) when compared to December 2013.

Looking back at activities done during the past six months to save money, numbers haven’t changed much from December findings. Six-in-10 Americans (59%, up one point) say they have been purchasing more generic brands, just more than four-in-10 (42%, holding steady from December results) say they’ve been brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it and just more than a third say they’ve switched to a refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water (34%, up one point).

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Kroger debuts Retail Site Intelligence, new enterprise IT architecture

BY Dan Berthiaume

Cincinnati – The Kroger Co. is collaborating with EInfochips and Wincor-Nixdorf to introduce a new enterprise IT architecture called Retail Site Intelligence (RSI). The architecture uses uses ZigBee wireless mesh networks to integrate long battery life sensors, handheld devices, point-of-sale devices and video management software into a next-generation platform for retail applications such as loss prevention, store automation and analytics.

The introduction of the RSI architecture, and the deployment of new retail business solutions by Kroger, culminates two years of global collaboration between Kroger and EInfochips to develop the underlying technology solutions. The results of this phase of development are new wireless devices, including cameras, scanners and scales, featuring ZigBee wireless technology, and Vigil360, a new video management software kernel designed specifically for RSI.

In an exclusive interview with Chain Store Age, Dion Perkins, R&D engineer for Kroger, said the ultimate goal of RSI is to make the shopping experience better for the customer while using the proliferation of Bluetooth and WiFi technology to reduce infrastructure costs.

“Store solutions are costly if deployed individually,” said Perkins. “We use cameras with a ZigBee radio interface that handle the security aspect and video analytics. They can also enable queue management and mobile shopping, and serve as temperature sensors. The cost of ongoing maintenance is lower with lower complexity and a simplified environment.”

Commercial versions of the RSI solutions being piloted by Kroger will be available later in 2014 with support and customization services delivered globally.

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